Vandalism hampers sanitation efforts

08 February 2018 | Infrastructure

Yolanda Nel

While the Windhoek city council is busy setting up communal toilets, it has nigh impossible for community members to maintain these facilities.

With sanitation a big risk factor for the occurrence and spread of contagious diseases like Hepatitis E, 330 communal toilets have been identified to be repaired to a working condition. “However, one of the challenges we face is the vandalism of these public facilities,” said Lydia Amutenya, public relations officer at the City of Windhoek (CoW).

According to her, inhabitants of informal settlements and presumably those from other settlements, make use of services meant for a limited number of people. This results in constant blockages and high maintenance costs. “This vandalism is due to a lack of ownership and a sense of responsibility,” she said.

Except for sanitation, safe water and hygiene and waste management facilities also seem inadequate for the inhabitants of informal settlements. Residents make use of unsafe water from contaminated sources for drinking, cooking and washing hands. “Poorly maintained infrastructure, the accumulation of waste and the presence of illegal food vendors are risk factors for Hepatitis E,” Amytenya warned.

With the challenges the CoW faces in this regard, N$32 million is required to finance an emergency response plan for Hepatitis E. “For the remainder of the 2017/18 financial year, N$17 million will be spent as a response to the outbreak.”

The CoW calls upon the private sector to help financially in this regard. In terms of how the CoW plans to curb the vandalism, especially if the private sector comes on board, Amutenya said that they are working with the police. “We, together with the City Police will work together to identify those who have no regard for infrastructure,” she said, urging community members to report vandals.

In an effort to curb the spread of the Hepatitis E outbreak, 20 additional toilets are being procured and an extension of the main pipeline for potable water has started in Goreangab. A clean-up campaign is also running in the informal settlements. An educational campaign is on-going, to educate residents on the importance of hygiene, while posters have been put up in different languages to make sure that everyone understands the message.

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